Young Ugandan Journalists Trained on Fact Checking and Digital Verification of Information on Covid-19 Pandemic

Twenty-Six (26) young journalists from radio, TV, print and online media in Uganda have been trained on fact checking and digital verification of information on Covid-19 pandemic by Media Challenge Initiative (MCI) with support from the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa. The training, which was held on 28 and 29 July 2020, aimed at strengthening capacities to debunk false stories related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also aimed at creating a new army of fact-checkers who will clarify true information about the pandemic and  expose false and exaggerated  claims. The workshop was organized in partnership with Africa Check, and Reality Check in Uganda.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Abaas Mpindi,  Chief Executive Officer of Media Challenge Initiative  said:

“The biggest challenge in the media industry today and in the next decades is going to be dealing with fake news in all its forms. This means that the next generation of journalists must be equipped with skills, knowledge and tools in fact checking and verification to fight the infodemic and that is what makes this training very timely,”

During the workshop, Ms. Carina van Wyk, Head of Education and Training at TRi Facts, Africa Check and facilitator of the workshop said:

“With COVID-19 and the flood of false information that accompanies this global pandemic, it’s becoming more and more important to provide the public with accurate information to base their decisions on,”

She took participants through relevant topics including: why facts matter; The importance of Fact Checking; what Can be fact checked; fact vs opinion; five step fact checking process; online verification of information; images and videos; and practical fact-checking skills in day-to-day reporting.

Ms. Twine Bella, a journalism student at Makerere University, stated that that she had learned a critical lesson that not all forwarded messages need to be forwarded. She said:

“During the two days of the training, I have been exposed to new tools to use while fact checking. I will use these new tools as a journalist to ensure that each story that I do is backed with data that I have checked,”

Mr. Ayebare Dan, a student from Makerere Business Institute, said that the fact checking training was an unforgettable experience to him. He intends to use the gained skills and knowledge to create a YouTube channel where he will debunk false content disseminated by traditional and digital media on COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda.

Mr. Reagan Kiyemba, a student at Makerere University added:

“This training has been an eye opener. I now believe that I am well equipped not to not spread false information as this training has added value to my journalism career. I therefore plan to use the knowledge acquired to do a fact checking story follow up on my blog. I’m even thinking about a TV or radio feature story.”

At the end of the workshop, Mr. Abaas Mpindi, Chief Executive Officer stated that Media Challenge Initiative (MCI) is grateful to UNESCO’s partnership to support the response efforts by Government during the pandemic in Uganda.

This workshop is part of UNESCO’s response efforts to the pandemic by supporting media and governments in promoting reliable, fact-based information and deciphering of COVID-19 disinformation through campaignsMIL CLICKS and GAP-MIL initiatives. This will contribute towards countering disinformation on COVID-19 and promoting healthy behaviors, as a fundamental means to stand together and tighten bonds of shared humanity during the pandemic.

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